City A Report From Last Night’s Skatepark Meeting
posted by November 16 at 11:03 AMon
Once again, last night’s Seattle Center skatepark meeting proved that no one wants a skatepark at 2nd and Thomas. A crowd of about 40 skaters, parents and members of the Seattle Center business community crowded into one of the conference rooms on the top floor of the Center House to express their dissent over the City Council’s push to replace the Seattle Center Pavilions with a skatepark. The biggest surprise of last night’s meeting had to be that both skaters and Seattle Center businesses seem to be on the same page.
The meeting started off with Center staff rifling off the numbers and details about the cost factors that lead to a reduction in size of the project (who knew it costs $5,000 just to relocate an ATM?). According to the Center’s numbers, 41-48% of the cost of the $2.9 million skatepark is attributable demolition costs.
The loss of either of the Pavilions—used by Bumbershoot, Folklife, the Children’s Festival and apparently as a homeless shelter—would require relocating events to the Bagley Wright Theater, Memorial Stadium, EMP or the Exhibition Center. The Center admitted that the move would have a fiscal impact on the events—$80,000 annually if Pavilion A is removed—which clearly miffed festival organizers.
During the public comment period, reps from the Italian Festival, the Bite of Seattle and the Japanese Cultural Festival all spoke to the geographical and financial hardships they’d likely face with the removal of Pavilion A, and were quick to suggest other sites on the Pavilion’s campus. Yutaka Sasaki, of the Japanese Cultural Festival, suggested the Center “give [the skaters] Mercer Arena,” he said, to much laughter and applause. Remove the roof, it’s got a deep pit, stairs and handrails.”
While Center businesses and festival organizers are clearly unhappy with the current plan, their ire was directed solely at the City Council and decision-makers at the Center.
John Ross, a Folklife volunteer for the last 34 years, decried the timing of the meeting—after Council had already declared that SeaSk8 would replace the Pavilion—
and chastised the Center for treating skaters like second-class citizens. "God forbid the [tourists or] students at the ballet school ever hang out with the skateboarders," he said.
A string of skateboarders, and their parents, spoke about the long, uphill battle they've been fighting to get a a replacement site for SeaSk8—which was torn down last January—and they all seemed to echo the same sentiment: we'll take what we can get.
Skate Park Advisory Committee (SPAC) Chair Ryan Barth addressed the complicated and totally maddening process SPAC's been involved in over the last year. "We're not here to pretend some people aren't going to be displaced," Barth said. "But we don't have anywhere else to go." Barth reiterated that he'd been told by Councilmembers that the Pavilion site "was the site," and that further negotiations weren't likely to happen. After the meeting, Barth told me that "people are burned out on the process. We're capitulating to [this] site."
The Pavilion site is going through the environmental review process, which should be finished by December 6th. If things keep moving forward, the Pavilion would close in September 2008 and a new skatepark would open in the spring of 2009
No one from City Council, the Mayor's office, or the Century 21 Committee attended last night's meeting.